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Monumenta 2016 Huang Yong Ping Empires

Huang Yong Ping was born in China in 1954. Before leaving his country to settle in France in 1989, he spearheaded a radical movement called Xiamen Dada, whose motto was “Zen is Dada, Dada is Zen”. A central figure of his generation, the artist conveyed in this slogan a desire to affiliate his work with the history of the Western avant-garde, while showing the resonance of this attitude with the notion of paradox in Zen.

Over a period of twenty years, Huang Yong Ping has explored the major issues of our time – conflict, economics, religion, nature – in works that have often been likened to philosophical fables.

Empires is an installation especially developed for Monumenta. It forms a landscape, made up of eight mounds of freight containers, a metal snake suspended from a crane that unfurls like mist between mountains, and a bicorne hat set on an arch directly inspired by the one worn by Napoleon at the Battle of Eylau. The containers evoke globalization, as vehicles for the circulation of wealth. The bicorne evokes the endless power struggles that drive the world and all the industrialists, politicians, military men and tyrants who long to wear that famous hat. The snake slithering over the work, mouth wide open, appears to jeopardize the ambition of these powers, while the loop that it forms symbolizes the infinite nature of this cycle of glory and destruction. The composition of Empires echoes the structure of the nave and its iron arches, late testaments to the profound transformations brought about by the industrial revolution. Just as certain Impressionists did before him, the artist describes a present-day economic landscape, while showing, from a non-judgemental perspective, how modern times obey the same laws as the empires before them, ineluctably governed by the same patterns of expansion and decadence.


Huang Yong Ping is represented by kamel mennour, Paris.


Monumenta 2016

Huang Yong Ping Empires

8 May – 18 June 2016 at Grand Palais, Paris


Text & Video: Grand Palais

Photo & Reported by:  Triski Nurani

By: Malariahouse | 17 June 2016